While still a great game, Hitman: Absolution often forgets its stronger points and favors its weaker ones.

User Rating: 8 | Hitman: Absolution X360
Gameplay: The assassinations are still great as always, with plenty of different ways to take out each target. Unfortunately, IO seems to have forgotten that this is their strongpoint, as each assassination has several painful straight-stealth missions between them. While the assassinations are open and creative, these stealth segments are linear and quite forgettable, as well as annoying. They usually lead you either down a straight path with maybe one or two alternate routes, but there generally isn't any allowed creativity during these segments and you'll be left hoping that the next assassination isn't going to be too much longer away. The biggest problem with the gameplay is the updated disguise system. Now, any enemy with the same outfit as you will detect you. While that makes sense in theory, there are two major problems with this system. First, I fail to understand how a cop could know every other cop in Chicago by heart and instantly be able to call someone out from across the room. Second, even on normal, enemies are able to detect you way too fast and it makes disguises almost useless. Since your cover can be blown in half a second, you'll often be sticking to the stealth mechanics anyway, and sometimes it's better to simply not have a disguise on at all. Instinct can help a little bit with its "blending in" feature, but most of the time you're spotted so quickly that you don't even have enough time to react. However, although this sounds mostly negative, the gameplay is for the most part pretty good. The stealth segments aren't as fun, but the mechanics are still great, and assassinations are just as good as they've always been. It's just a shame they weren't focused on a little more. The strongest part of Hitman: Absolution is the replayability. Each mission has tons of challenges to complete that can't possibly be done on a single playthrough. These are fun, interesting, and will test your skills. Contracts, as well, will add many hours to your game time (I'll discuss that in its own section)

Story: The story starts off interesting enough, but it tanks as soon as you meet the main villain. IO went for a sort of grindhouse Tarentino feel, but it simply doesn't work. Every character is written as unpleasant and annoying as a substitute for being interesting or three-dimensional. The only likeable character is 47, and that's simply because he's the one who talks the least. It's kind of cool to see Agent 47 invest emotionally in Victoria, seeing himself in her and being able to personally relate to what she's gone through, but she disappears almost immediately and this dynamic is never developed any further. Much like the assassinations, IO had something interesting here, but for whatever reason refused to focus on it.

Graphics/Sound: Both of these are wonderful. The graphics are crisp and pleasing to the eye, with everything from rain, decaying structures, and some of the largest crowds you've ever seen all being rendered in great detail without hardly a hitch in performance. The art direction really gives off the atmosphere that 47 has delved into the lowest pits humanity has to offer. The sounds design is also top notch, going hand in hand with the art direction to really sell you on the world that you're in. NPC dialogue is well written (minus the main villains') with plenty of humor to lighten up the often depressing atmosphere being given off. While Jesper Kyd is missed, the music still does it's job and is quite good.

Contracts: Contracts mode really saves this game. At first I was skeptical, thinking that, without a level editor, the system would be too simple to have the variety needed to keep me going. However, this is not the case. You'd be surprised at the amount of possibilities available through this mode. And, since you must play the contract to make the contract, you know there will be no impossible levels typically found in most games with user-generated content. The thing that makes Contracts so good though is that it's centered around what the game should be about: assassinations. It's what you buy the game for, and with this mode there are now an endless number of them to be done in an endless number of ways; and it proves that you don't need tacked-on PvP multiplayer to add replayability.

On the story mode alone, I'd probably give this game a 7-7.5. Contracts, however, bumps it up to an 8 and really makes the game. Diehard Hitman fans will be dissapointed that there aren't as many assassinations in this game as previous titles, but if you can set that aside, Hitman: Absolution is still a great game with great gameplay and tons of replay value.
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